Ever wanted to know what members of the global community working to regenerate soils looks like? We joined Linda Gibb, Soil Advocate Training alumni, to talk about her work, purpose, and vision for the future.
Kiss the Ground: How would you describe yourself as an advocate?
Linda: I think of myself as someone who can inspire others by having fun in my own garden. When someone comes to my garden for the first time, the grace emanating from the life in the soil is something that has been commented on more than once. They can sense the life around them, but can’t articulate what it is. A beautiful Jamaican drummer who’d worked at our place before came up to me after a talk I gave to a group of musicians, and said, “That’s what I feel in your garden, abundant life!” I’m also a grandmother who tries to translate scientific language into everyday conversation so more people get inspired to grow soil.
Kiss the Ground: What are you really excited about bringing to life?
Linda: I’m working on creating a children’s picture book about pedogenesis (the birth of the soil carbon sponge). It’s so simple a 4-year-old can understand it, but it’s also compelling enough to inspire the participation of the parent reading it to get their hands dirty and help re-green the 5 billion hectares of land we humans have turned to desert. That’s a lofty goal and one I’m not convinced I can do, but I’m trying.
Kiss the Ground: What was your experience in the Soil Advocate Training (SAT) like, what kind of impact did the course have on you?
Linda: After I went through the Kiss The Ground Soil Advocate Training I never saw the world the same again. Everyday, whether I’m walking, driving, or hiking, I see so many opportunities to regenerate the ecosystems that we live in. I want to share those insights now with others.
Kiss the Ground: What have you been up to post-Soil Advocate Training?
Linda: Since SAT training, I’ve spoken to many different groups–wise women studying herbs, musicians, fire victims, firemen, and garden clubs. My highlight so far was speaking at the 73rd annual CA Resource Conservation District conference in San Diego. Peter Donovan was in that particular break out session on rangeland resilience. He spoke to me afterwards, and gave me Didi Pershouse’s book, The Ecology of Care: Medicine, Agriculture, Money, and the Quiet Power of Human and Microbial Communities. He also invited me to check out the work of Walter Jehne. Walter, Peter and Didi’s collaborations, Rehydrating California and The Soil Carbon Coalition, have deepened my studies further.
Soil is such an emerging science. I’ll never stop studying. To help me process all the new things I’m learning, I teach a free class on soil at my home every Tuesday night, and I speak to my city council and neighbors every chance I get. I can tie almost any issue to the soil. Even my physical therapist says to me, “I know, I know, soil! That’s the answer.”
Kiss the Ground: What are your thoughts on regeneration and the power of healthy soils?
Linda: My goal is that people will come to understand the soil carbon sponge as a crucible for all life, and that how we treat the surface of the soil determines everything that happens on earth. Perhaps when this understanding is common wisdom, we can remember to see ourselves as nature expressing herself–yet another form of life that is connected to all life on the planet.
Maybe then we can, as Geoff Lawton says, “become one of the most beneficial elements on the planet instead of one of the most damaging elements on the planet.” And may it be that we do so now, because the next 10 years are going to set us on a trajectory of disaster or regeneration. I hope we choose regeneration, but the angel of death may be who is calling civilization. My favorite farmer saying is, “Farm like you’ll live a thousand years, live like you’ll die tomorrow.” Responsible fun is what is needed to bring us together to do the work this time in history is asking of us.
May we answer the call of our time.